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Tribute to Special Operations Forces a Night to Remember

Monday, September 12, 2011  
Posted by: Edie Rosenthal
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(Sept 12)  The Special Operations Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the families of fallen and wounded special operations personnel, hosted a Tribute to Special Operations Forces and their families in Tampa yesterday.

More than 420 guests, including an American hero from the Vietnam War, joined top military, civic and business leaders to pay tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women of special operations and their families.

"It’s such a privilege to honor America’s Special Operations forces and to spend time with these true heroes,” said event sponsor TriWest Healthcare Alliance President and CEO David J. McIntyre, Jr.

"Our nation’s Special Operations forces are an exceptional group of more than 65,000 strong who have done so much for our country—particularly in defending American freedoms following the tragedy of 9/11.”

Since 9/11, some 475 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel have lost their lives in combat or training missions, leaving behind 585 children that the foundation has added to its program.

"This is an evening of remembrance and paying tribute to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom,” said the foundation’s president, retired Air Force Col. John T. Carney, Jr.

"It is also a night for reaffirming the foundation’s commitment,” he said, "a pledge to provide a college education to all 911 surviving children of special operations personnel killed in combat or training.”

One distinguished guest was Army Special Forces Major Drew Dix, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage under attack by the Viet Cong in 1968 when he as a young Staff Sgt.

Other special guests included ten families of fallen special operations warriors, including one of the guest speakers, Teresa Gilden, who lost her father in 1983 in Beruit when she was six months old. Her father, Staff Sgt. Terry Gilden, was a young Army Ranger who was killed when Shiite truck bombers destroyed the American Embassy. Teresa graduated from Spokane Falls Community College with a degree in Photography.

The evening started with a special presentation by Amy Hawk, Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am Tournament Director, who presented SOWF President John T. Carney, Jr., with a check for $100,000. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation was one of two charities selected to receive proceeds from the 2011 tournament.

Keynote speaker was Vice Adm. Robert Harward, who serves as Deputy Commander, U. S. Central Command. He is a Navy SEAL and has served in both east and west coast Navy SEAL teams. In his current role, he oversees the central area of the globe, which is comprised of 20 countries, including Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former Army Ranger, turned country singer and author, Keni Thomas captivated the audience with his songs and storytelling. He also brought advanced copies of his book, Get it On: What it Means to Lead the Way.

A special thank you to all of the sponsors who made this tribute dinner possible, including Eagle Level Sponsors:

Lockheed Martin

Pinch A Penny

TriWest Healthcare Alliance


Warrior Level Sponsors:

Tom & Dixie Arthur


Intelligent Waves

The MacDougald Family

Triple Canopy



Read More about Keni's Book



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